Today is October 24 on the Gregorian calendar, but it is Tishrei 22 on the Biblical calendar. Tishrei is the seventh month. The Fall Feasts–Yom Teruah (Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkoth (Tabernacles/Booths)–take place in the month of Tishrei.
Today is significant because it is the last day–the eight-day–of the Feast of Booths, and it ends at sunset. Jesus was in Jerusalem on this day about 2000 years ago because Booths was one of the three feasts that required Jewish men to come to Jerusalem.
John 7: 1-53 gives an account of Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths and what transpired during that time. Jesus went to Jerusalem in secret because some were seeking to kill him, but during the middle of the festival, he began speaking openly in the Temple, causing no small stir. You can read about that in verses 14-36.
I’m especially interested in verses 37-53 because they describe the 8th day of the Feast of Booths, which happens to be today. Verses 37-39 set the stage.
37 “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’
39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (NASB).
THE CROWD QUESTIONS JESUS’ IDENTITY
40 When they heard these words, some of the crowd said, “This man really is the Prophet.”
41 Others were saying, “This is the Messiah.” Still others were saying, “The Messiah doesn’t come from the Galilee, does He?
42 Didn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from the seed of David and from Bethlehem, David’s town?”
43 So a division arose in the crowd because of Yeshua.
44 Some wanted to capture Him, but no one laid hands on Him (TLV).
AUTHORITIES DISPUTE JESUS’ IDENTITY
45 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?
46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.
47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?
48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
49 But this people who knoweth no the law are cursed.
50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)
51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.
53 And every man went unto his own house (KJV).
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, and performed most of his miracles in the area of Galilee. He followed the Law of Moses and participated in all of the feasts outlined in Leviticus 23. The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the Hebrews’ 40 years of living in the wilderness in temporary booths or shelters called “sukkahs” with God dwelling among them. Many Messianic Jews and gentiles believe that the Feast of Tabernacles is a dress rehearsal for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and His Bride. In fact, the sukkah uncannily resembles the structure in Jewish weddings that the bride and groom stand beneath.
Studying and participating in God’s Appointed Times (Leviticus 23) is an eye-opening experience for the believer. Celebrating God’s Appointed Times is not for Jews only but also for gentiles (“the wild olive branch”) that are grafted in.
Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts (Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Shavuot/Pentecost) with his First Coming, and He will fulfill the Fall Feasts with His Second Coming. Zechariah 14: 16 tells us that “everyone that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles” (KJV). That’s the verse that prompted me, a gentile believer in the Messiah, to take God’s Appointed Times seriously
Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” Would he celebrate Tabernacles or Halloween?
Concerning the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths, it’s interesting to note that Peter suggested building three tabernacles–one for Jesus, one for Moses and and one for Elijah on the mountain where the transfiguration took place. (See Mark 9: 1-9). Although Peter’s remark seems fumbling and out of place, could it be that the transfiguration occurred around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles?